The date cake alone is worth the trip to Citrus Bistro. Photo by Kayla Stigall.

DFW Restaurant Week is a great excuse to get off the beaten path and try some places that might not otherwise make it onto your radar. The annual event, presented by Central Market and benefitting the North Texas Food Bank and Lena Pope, is a worthy cause and allows area eateries to showcase their culinary skills to perhaps new dining audiences.

It was in this spirit of charitable exploration that a friend and I trekked up to Colleyville to try Citrus Bistro Seafood Restaurant’s $45 fixed-price menu, a special that will be available for dinner service until Sunday, Aug. 30. In Colleyville’s burgeoning gastronomic scene, Citrus Bistro’s chef and owner Didier Viriot has made his name as a representative of classic French cooking (read: butter everywhere). His four-course sampling of French and Mediterranean dishes sounded delectable enough to inspire a rush-hour drive to the northeastern reaches of Tarrant County.

The place was practically empty on a Monday evening, but we were greeted and seated warmly. The 1:1 ratio of staff to diners may have engendered a familiarity that would have been uncomfortable in a fine-dining setting, but if our server seemed a bit chummy he also seemed sincerely interested in making sure we had an enjoyable experience. He was quick to offer his opinions and suggestions, and he was not at all shy about his preference for the seafood, delivered fresh to the restaurant three times a week.

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[box_info]Citrus Bistro

5005 Colleyville Blvd, Ste 240, Colleyville. 817-281-6282. 11am-3pm Sun, 11am-2pm Mon-Fri, 5pm-10pm Mon-Sat. Reservations and major credit cards accepted.[/box_info]

The décor was nothing short of bizarre. A ceiling of jet-black acoustic tiles and a charcoal gray wood floor sandwiched a kaleidoscope of sherbet-colored linens and chairs. A large wooden ship’s wheel hung above a slate fireplace, and orange flicker-bulbs perched in generic ceiling fans. Though the place’s website claims an atmosphere “both casual and elegant,” the net effect is neither. Certainly the bright, cheery, freshly scrubbed efficiency of bistro dining was nowhere to be found, though the place was impeccably clean. It felt more like a poorly lit stage set.

We mostly followed our server’s recommendation to try the seafood. The crab cake appetizer was nicely seasoned with a brown-buttered crust. Though the crabmeat was tinned, the quality was perfectly acceptable, and the ratio of lump crab to other ingredients was spot on. The salmon tartare was fresh but a bit bland — the dill seemed an afterthought when it should have shared center stage with the beautifully minced fish. The toast rounds served alongside the tartare were uninspired. The bread generally was a notable disappointment. In a French bistro, you expect superlative French bread, and the basket of spongy lumps served at Citrus Bistro fell short of the mark. It tasted like something that arrived in a freezer truck.

The house salad was not much more than slightly wilted mixed greens and a few cherry tomatoes, but the house-made citrus vinaigrette saved the dish with a clean and bright finish that refreshed the palate. The lentil soup was a rich, dense paste that would have been perfect for a cool winter night, but it was a heavy choice for Texas in August.

My guest ordered the veal saltimbocca with spinach, prosciutto, and provolone cheese in a sherry-sage sauce. If that sounds like a mouthful, try chewing the veal — Chef Viriot’s beautifully flavored wine sauce didn’t quite make up for the tough texture of the meat. We were embarrassed that we had to request a steak knife.

A much better pick was the Sole Dynamite with crab and shrimp, a classic preparation rarely seen on today’s menus. The dish consisted of a perfectly flaky, delicate flat-fish filet sauced with a decadent tarragon cream. Even the tiny shrimp, so easy to overcook, were just right.

The chef’s green beans deserve special mention: These tender legumes were no obligatory afterthought. They could star in their own show.

The Belgian chocolate mousse was an average chocolate pudding served in a champagne flute. There is no particular reason to order it, particularly when compared to the house dessert — the date cake. It was a wedge of deep, velvety, fruited Bundt cake, served warm to bring out hints of exotic spices, drenched in a homemade brown sugar caramel sauce. It’s the kind of dessert you’ll think about the next day. As much as anything else we tried on our visit, it is the dish that would happily bring us scampering back to this far-flung corner of the Mid-Cities.


Citrus Bistro
DFW Restaurant Week fixed-price dinner menu (until Aug 30)
$45 per person[/box_info]